Sunday, September 28, 2008
Eleanor Marx in Sydenham
Sydenham Town has a nice feature of this month's unveiling of a blue plaque commemorating Eleanor Marx (1855-1898) at 7 Jews Walk, Sydenham. Eleanor is best known as the daughter of Karl Marx, but was a prominent socialist in her own right - for instance she was involved in founding the Socialist League with William Morris and others. While living in Sydenham she wrote for the socialist paper Justice on the women's question and other issues.
The Sydenham Town feature includes film of the unveiling with Sydenham Society historian Steven Grindlay providing details of her time in the house from 1895 to 1898. Evidently she bought the house with money left to her by Friedrich Engels, and was partly taken by the house because of its address - she wrote to her sister that she was 'Jewishly proud of her house in Jews Walk' (she was part Jewish).
Her relationship with Edward Aveling was falling apart at this time, despite her nursing him after an illness during which she pushed him around Sydenham in a bath chair, and she apparently poisoned herself (Grindlay has even identified the location of the chemist in Kirkdale which supplied the poison). The plaque opening also featured architectural historian Gavin Stamp and The Strawberry Thieves socialist choir leading the singing of the Internationale.